Saturday, December 26, 2009

Weekly menu: December 27-January 2

Sunday, December 27
Oatmeal & raisins
Turkey enchiladas

Monday, December 28
Leftover enchiladas
Pork fajitas

Tuesday, December 29
Cheese quesadillas
Chili & cinnamon rolls

Wednesday, December 30
Cinnamon rolls
Frito pie

Thursday, December 31
Scrambled eggs & bacon
Appetizers and party!

Friday, January 1, 2011 HAPPY NEW YEAR
Leftovers, or frozen pizza

Saturday, January 2
Chocolate pancakes
Ham sandwiches and chips
Pork roast and potatoes

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Easy desserts

My mom loves holiday baking. Growing up, Christmas memories always include heaping stacks of goodies filling the countertop. Cookies, divinity, peanut brittle, peanut clusters, 7-layer bars, melted circle candies, hard candy, oyster crackers, chocolate covered everything...Yum! And that's just the desserts! Even for someone who doesn't like chocolate or peanut butter, my mom's kitchen was and still is the place to be for Christmas.

Well, now I have my own kitchen and my own brood to pass on the Christmas baking traditions. I prefer to make things that the girls can help me make, and it's a little more challenging, what with Maggie's sucrose and lactose intolerance. But, my countertop is getting more and more loaded. Here are two of the favorites from tonight:

Thin Mints

1 cup Nestle dark chocolate and mint chips
1 sleeve Ritz crackers

  1. Melt the mint chocolate chips in the microwave, following the directions on the bag.
  2. Drop a cracker into the melted chocolate, completely coating the cracker.
  3. Place the coated cracker on a sheet of waxed paper. Let cool and set up completely.

Forgotten Cookies (Thanks, Alison, for the recipe)

1 egg white
1 pinch of salt
1/3 cup Splenda or sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites and salt until foamy.
  3. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until whites form stiff peaks.
  4. Fold in the vanilla and chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  6. Place the cookies into the preheated oven, shut the door and turn off the oven immediately.
  7. Let cookies sit in the turned off oven for 5 to 6 hours or overnight.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weekly menu: December 20-26

Sunday, December 20
Pancakes and eggs
Pizza rolls

Monday, December 21
Breakfast burritos
Cranberry salad
Sweet and sour meatballs

Tuesday, December 22

Wednesday, December 23
Oven puff pancakes with apple pie jam
Leftovers aka clear out the fridge
Fast food

Thursday, December 24 CHRISTMAS EVE
Broccoli cheese soup and chili

Friday, December 25 CHRISTMAS DAY
Happy Face Pancakes
Potluck lunch
Leftover supper

Saturday, December 26 JAY'S BIRTHDAY
whatever Jay wants to eat :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays 2009

And Lainie, going solo:

Want a comparison? Here's last year's song

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Apple Pie Oatmeal Bars

One word: delicious! Jay found this recipe on one of his garden forums and adapted it to use his own jam.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
3/4 cup butter
2 cups Jay's Apple Pie Jam

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Mix together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and quick cooking oatmeal in a medium bowl. Cut in 3/4 cup butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Pat two-thirds into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  4. Spoon apple pie jam evenly on top.
  5. Sprinkle the top with the remaining crumb mixture.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until crispy brown on top. Cool before cutting into bars.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Natalie's accomplishments

Natalie has had a big couple of weeks. She finally started sleeping through the night; unfortunately for my ego, it coincided with the addition of a bedtime formula bottle. We both need the sleep, I ration, and there was no way I could continue nursing her 100 percent while I was recovering from surgery. I am happy, though, that she is still nursing before she gets that bottle. It's important to me that she get any and all health boosts I can give her, especially through this flu season.

We went to her well-child appointment on Tuesday, even though she wasn't very well. The night before, she spiked a personal-record high of 103.5 fever. Her nose is a little runny, and she was wiped out, but no other symptoms appeared. Looks like a virus, or we could blame that new tooth.

Yep, little missy is getting her second tooth, the bottom right one. Nothing is cuter than a baby's grin, when she only has a handful of teeth to show. :)

Back to the well-child exam: all was well! Developmentally, she's just fine. Talking slower than Katie, Maggie, or Lainie did, but moving months sooner than any of her big sisters. EDITED to add: last night, she said Mama, and tonight she said Dadda. Yay! She is a runt, but a well-proportioned runt. At 27 inches and 16 pounds 13 ounces, she is at the 21st percentile for height and 9th percentile for weight. Unlike Lainie's runt status, Natalie's isn't concerning, because she is staying on the same growth line. Just looking at her, you can see the difference. Whereas Lainie looked emancipated, Natalie looks just right. :)

What else did she do this week? Today, she climbed the stairs to her bedroom (with me behind her) and she walked across the living room, with the help of a push toy. She is saying "Hi" or some version of it and waving, and then waiting for a response. You can tell she is grasping the concept of conversation. She's eating more and more table food, and deflecting more and more baby food.

"I do it myself" is definitely a dominant trait in her personality; independence and determination are already apparent.

She's also learning cause-and-effect. "If I drop the washcloth in the bathwater, I can suck more water out of it. If I take off my bib, I will illicit a response from the parental unit, albeit a negative one." I absolutely love watching her learn and develop, even when the new skills mean more challenges for us.

Natalie has a hilarious laugh. It's some sort of snicker-snort that sounds somewhat like Rosco from Dukes of Hazard. It's super contagious and definitely a top 5 sound to my ears.

Oh, and I dropped her on her head on the ice. Mama of the year, eh? I was carrying her to the car and fell on a patch of ice. It was slow motion, and my only thought was "catch the baby!" I caught most of her; unfortunately, her head bounced on the ground. While it terrified me at the moment, it didn't seem to be a problem for her. She stopped crying within a minute and acted normal the rest of the night. I guess the big squishy coat she was wearing provided some padding. Let's not test it with a repeat, though.

She is just so beautiful! (Come on; a mom can think her child is perfect!) Her hair is a golden blonde and is showing curl, especially in the back. Her eyes are a stunning blue, the kind of blue eyes that I always dreamed of having when I was a little girl. And, she has a little dimple to go with that immense smile.

I love that the girls don't look alike, despite the definite resemblance. I mean, they each have a trait to set them apart. Katie has dark blonde, straight hair and deep brown, wide eyes and skin that tans so nicely. Lainie is most like Katie, with round brown eyes and straight blonde hair, but her hair is a lighter, near-white color and her skin much lighter. While Maggie has those same brown eyes, hers are more elongated, her skin is a much lighter, pink shade, and her hair is brown with white highlights and curl. She is so proud of those curls! And then comes Natalie, with the lightest blonde hair, curl, and blue eyes. We should be studied in a genetics class; can you think of a better representative family for recessive genes? :)

Oh, Lord, I love my girls!

Homemade Chinese Food: Jay's Broccoli and Beef

I give up. Round steak and I don't get along. No matter how I make it, it chews like beef jerky. Then, Jay decided to try a new recipe, just for kicks. And, WOWZA. Yum. Tender, and fast.

Beef and Broccoli

3 Tablespoons corn starch, divided
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 pound boneless round steak, cut into 3-inch strips
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups broccoli florets
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
hot cooked rice

  1. In a bowl, combine 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, 2 Tablespoons water, and garlic powder until smooth.
  2. Add beef and toss.
  3. In a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, stir-fry beef in 1 Tablespoon oil until beef reaches desired doneness. Remove and keep warm.
  4. Add remaining Tablespoon of oil to the skillet or wok. Stir-fry broccoli and onion in oil for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Return beef to pan.
  6. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and remaining cornstarch and water until smooth. Add to the pan.
  7. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Five random thoughts for today

  1. No matter how much you've slept the past week, 3 hours is not enough sleep to get through a day.
  2. Why is that a child can pee all the time while potty training, but when you stick a urine sample cup in the same room, nothing. nada. zip. TWO HOURS waiting for a teeny tiny bit of urine from Miss Lainie, just to get an "inconclusive" result. Doc thinks she either has a UTI or Strep, but both tests looked fine and were sent off for the 24 hour culture.
  3. What is the magic of Dora the Explorer, and how can we bottle it? How is that a child who doesn't like to speak in public and who is intelligible maybe 20 percent of the time, answers Dora's every question with robust clarity?
  4. Why does chili always need cinnamon rolls with it? Or is it just my family that feels that way? Too bad we can't have them. It's not fair to put cinnamon rolls on the table and then tell Maggie, no, you can't have them, remember?
  5. If you ever need to make sugar-free cookies, don't use the Splenda recipe on their Web site. I'm guessing that "4 cups of flour" is a typo and should read "3 cups". Maggie still loved her guilt-free, eczema-free, tummy-problem-free cookies.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Switching focus

I got to focus on getting me better for about 5 days. The girls decided that was long enough. Katie broke out in hives today, and Lainie surprised us with a 102.7 fever. I was planning to take off work tomorrow for one more day of rest; that's still the plan, but I'll have at least one little buddy with me on the basement couches.

Onto brighter news, I am officially a student again. I am enrolled in two online classes at CCCC, with one more pending, and one evening class at MATC. I'm also pre-enrolled at NCKTC for the fall semester, and need to schedule my NET exam time. WOW. And I thought ag had a lot of acronyms! :) I had all the forms and lists and course numbers and financial aid ready and waiting for the official "benign" report. And now, full-speed ahead! I am just so excited!

I hope the excitement can carry me through the next few months of studying. It'll be toughest between now and March. That will be the only time I'll be working full-time and going to school full-time. Also, my face-to-face class is done in March; the online classes will be easier on our family. I can even start working on one of the classes now, which means I could get one done over Christmas break, before the face-to-face class even starts.

Did I mention I'm excited!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Weekly menu: December 13-19

Sunday, December 13
Ham & sweet potatoes
Ham fried rice

Monday, December 14
Scrambled eggs
Leftover rice
Ham pockets

Tuesday, December 15
Apple-Almond Salad

Wednesday, December 16
Toast & fruit
Leftover spaghetti
Pork Stir Fry & rice

Thursday, December 17
Leftover stir fry
Pizza Roll

Friday, December 18
Pizza rolls
Beef enchiladas

Saturday, December 19
Pork burgers & chips & salad

Breakfast with some love

I love this recipe. It's easy, it gets oohs and aahs from the girls, and it gives them protein. This recipe can be down-sized, or up-sized, for any family. For us, it means 6 servings.

6 pieces of sandwich bread
6 eggs
Aluminum foil
Cooking spray
Shredded cheese, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  3. Using a cookie cutter, cut a shape out of each slice of bread. We use hearts, but then again, we are a house full of little girls.
  4. Spray the aluminum foil with cooking spray.
  5. Place the bread on the foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  6. Crack an egg into each slice of bread.
  7. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes, or until egg is set.
  8. If desired, sprinkle cheese on hot egg-in-toast and let melt.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Home is the best medicine

When ever one of the kids come down with some new-to-us illness -- like epilepsy, epiglottitis, asthma, apraxia, intolerance to sugar, croup -- I'll hit up Dr Google to decide whether it warrants a trip to the doctor, find any home remedies, and look for some hint that my child, for once, is NOT in the 3rd percentile. That is to say, "97 percent of children will do this" and my 3rd-ers will be the oddballs and warrant a doc visit.

Anywho. for anyone planning to have a thyroidectomy any time soon and hitting up Dr Google for some experiential data, here's my unsolicited advice to you.

1. Don't do it on the day a super winter storm hits. While the drive to the hospital at 4 a.m. in the midst of a 12-inch snow was exciting and distracting, it wasn't exactly safe and foolproof, either. And, it meant sending Jay home as soon as I woke up from surgery. After all, it's not fair to reward your mom for coming up to lend a hand by snowing her in with 4 kids for two days by herself.
2. Enjoy the rest while you can. I slept, basically, 24 hours straight, less an hour to sit up and eat some supper at 9 p.m.
3. Stay on top of your pain medicine. If you don't, you'll end up on the computer blogging at 3 a.m. while you wait for the latest pill to kick in.
4. Don't look in the mirror. It looks worse than it feels, but I think I look like a CSI victim:

And now, I need your advice. Once this heals a bit more, I'm sure a turtleneck will cover the slash. And, I'm even confidant the surgeon's work will leave a tiny scar by the time it's too warm for a turtleneck. But, right now it hurts to wear a turtleneck; the seam hits at just the wrong spot. If I had an inkling of fashion sense, or half the craving for accessories that Katie has, I would have a stash of beautiful scarves in my closet and would actually know how to tie a snazzy little loopy-thing and cover it just right. But I'm me, more partial to faded t-shirt, flannel button-ups* and wore out jeans. So, help me. Send me a picture or link or youtube video on how to cover this thing up for the next week or so. I don't want to scare any little kids, besides my own 4 gawkers.

*And speaking of flannel shirts, we had a garage sale last summer, and I clearly remember holding my favorite red-and-black check "lumberjack" flannel long-sleeve button-down shirt, my ode-to-the-grunge shirt. It is not Jay's favorite, to say the least. He makes fun of it, calling me Paul and looking for my big blue ox every time I wear it. I don't care; I love it. Still, based on my shirt rule of, if you haven't worn it in 3 years and you will never make it into a cutesy t-shirt quilt, it's probably time to sell, I might have sold it in the garage sale. I hope I didn't, because the exact same shirt was in 3 trendy college-bopper stores this holiday season. Damn. My clothes are so old, they're cool again.

Maybe I do have an inkling of fashion after all. Old fashion.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hello, Winter.

14 hours post-surgery. Finally awake enough to eat. Sore, my voice is rough, but I'm fine.

12-13 inches of snow at home and 7 inches here. I wonder if Jay will be able to bring me home tomorrow. And I'm glad I shooed him out of here early afternoon. I'd hate for Mom to be snowed in with the girls solo.

My ear doesn't hurt anymore, and I haven't had the spiky headache yet today, so I'm hopeful the lump was causing those things. Still waiting for the swelling to go down so I can swallow with ease.

I miss my girls! I wanna go home!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Weekly menu: December 6-12

Sunday, December 6
Sausage gravy & biscuits
Leftover soup
Homemade pizza & salad

Monday, December 7
Leftover pizza

Tuesday, December 8
Cheese quesadillas
Broccoli Cheese Soup

Wednesday, December 9
Breakfast burritos
Leftover soup

Thursday, December 10
Tuna casserole

Friday, December 11
Tortilla roll-ups

Saturday, December 12
Donuts from Tasty Pastry
Hot dogs and Mac-N-cheese
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mama said there'd be days like this

This morning, Lainie threw up at daycare, after I was headed to Manhattan to work. I turned around to get her from daycare and screwed up, didn't realize the school zone time had kicked in, got a 30-in-a-20-in-a-school-zone, $85 ticket. Got yelled at by Jay, not because of the ticket, but just because of his frustration of having to take another sub day. (He had to take off work this time, because I had to get to work by 9 to finish my first aid/cpr class, so I can take the classes I want to in the spring. If it took it this morning, it was $22. If I had to wait, it'd be $50 or more.) And, then I had to get to our bank and deposit money before we had an overdraft, and call the electrician to come out because our furnace didn't work on the coldest morning yet this year.


The way I see it, all my prayer-vibes got exhausted on the "please-no-cancer" wish. That, and Lainie threw up but didn't have a seizure. I got a ticket but didn't hit a deer. The bank needed money, but we had the cash to deposit. The furnace was broken, but it got fixed and was only $65 instead of replacing the entire unit. And Jay? Well, he got to stay home with Lainie, hopefully get a nap and get some things accomplished at home. Lainie didn't throw up again, so we're still going out with friends tonight. And it can only get better from here.

I wonder if any stores still sell Calgon?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Getting ready

In my freezer, I have:
  • lasagne
  • meatballs
  • turkey casserole
  • turkey enchiladas
  • beef enchiladas
  • taco meat
  • cooked sausage for pizza
  • fajita in a bag
  • 2 pizza rolls (bread stuffed with pizza filling)
  • meatloaf
  • pork stir fry
In my kitchen, I also have ingredients for:
  • Chili
  • Broccoli cheese coup
  • Cream of tomato soup
  • Tuna sandwiches
  • Tuna casserole
  • Waffles & pancakes
  • Corndogs and hotdogs
As far as Christmas shopping, I have three more gifts to get and wrap, plus pushing Jay to get the two he is responsible for. Then, Christmas obligations should be done. Well, that is except for the probable school and daycare gift exchanges and other last minute "ooops-i-forgots".

My mom's coming up to take care of the girls and get them where they need to be, so Jay can go with me to the hospital. Then a wonderful network of friends and family are in place to help shuttle to and from school or religion or speech and all that.

I feel better already! At least emotionally, that is.

Chocolate popcorn, mixed reviews

I came up with a new snack; the girls love it, but Jay says eh. :) Since Maggie can't handle table sugar but still has a sweet tooth, this is way to let her have chocolate flavor with very little sugar. Let me know what you think of it, or ways to improve it:

Chocolate popcorn

1 bag microwave popcorn
1 individual packet instant hot cocoa mix

Pop one bag of microwave popcorn. Carefully open it at one end. While it's still hot, pour one packet of hot cocoa mix. Shake well for about a minute, to make sure the chocolate mix is evenly distributed. Enjoy!